Scientists funded by NASA did a study on rats and found that long space journeys might cause a big problem for male astronauts — it could give them trouble with their private parts, even when they come back to Earth.
During long space trips, astronauts might be exposed to something called galactic cosmic radiation (GCR).
The study showed that this radiation could harm the private parts of male astronauts, and these problems might last for many years.
To see how GCR and floating in space might affect private parts, scientists did experiments on 86 male rats.
The rats were exposed to radiation similar to what astronauts might face.
Unfortunately, even low levels of radiation caused damage to the blood vessels in the rats' private parts, and this damage lasted for more than a year.
The study found that weightlessness in space also caused health issues for the rats, but not as much as the radiation.
The lead scientist said this wasn't very surprising because other studies showed that this kind of radiation could harm the parts needed for proper private function.
The good news is that scientists found treatments that helped improve the genitals' issues in the rats. While the bad effects of radiation lasted a long time, targeting specific pathways in the tissues could make the problems treatable.